January 6th, 2014
Tim Eyman borrows from the Ted Cruz playbook, turns to coercion with latest initiative
Perhaps galvanized by the headline-grabbing but ultimately failed tactics used by the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party during last autumn’s needless government shutdown, Tim Eyman today filed a revised draft of an initiative idea he’s been toying with for the last few weeks.
The latest incarnation, which does not yet have a number or a ballot title, demands that by July 1st, 2015, the Legislature put a constitutional amendment on the ballot requiring a two-thirds vote to raise revenue, or else the sales tax would be reduced by a penny, which would wipe out around $1 billion (with a b) in funding for public schools, universities, and other vital public services.
The state sales tax and property tax are the primary source of revenue for education, which the Constitution says is the state’s “paramount duty.” In McCleary v. State, The Supreme Court ruled in early 2012 that the state is failing to abide by the Constitution by underfunding its public schools.
“Tim Eyman’s latest initiative is unconstitutional, just as his I-601 clones were,” said NPI founder and executive director Andrew Villeneuve, who has organized opposition to Eyman’s destructive initiatives for nearly twelve years. “And that’s no accident. Eyman is just as interested in undermining and weakening our plan of government as he is in eviscerating the vital public services we all rely on. He’s a menace.”
Eyman’s latest destructive initiative seems directed at lawmakers, but we suspect Eyman also had the Supreme Court in mind when he wrote it. This, apparently, is his reply to the League of Education Voters decision.
For it is thanks to the Supreme Court that the main provision in Eyman’s undemocratic, unconstitutional I-601 clones is now gone, and majority rule restored to our statehouse. Last year, the Court struck down the two-thirds vote requirement for new-revenue imposed by those initiatives, affirming that the only lawful and legitimate way to change our Constitution is by amendment.
And ironically, amendments must begin in the Legislature and receive a two-thirds vote before going to the people.
Eyman therefore needs a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to make his unsound and undemocratic two-thirds scheme permanent. He needs lawmakers’ cooperation.
Since he doesn’t have the votes, he’s returning to his revenue-slashing roots and borrowing from the Ted Cruz playbook by introducing an initiative that would gut funding for public schools – and purposely defy the Supreme Court’s McCleary decision – if the Legislature doesn’t do what he wants.
Eyman’s latest initiative boils down to this: “Either comply with my wishes, or watch a billion dollars in funding for schools vanish. Clock’s ticking!”
“Tim Eyman is betting that Washingtonians care more about giving a third of lawmakers the power to block new revenue than they do about fulfilling our paramount duty, the education of Washington’s young people,” said Villeneuve. “We couldn’t disagree more, and in the months ahead, we will rally Washingtonians to join us in fiercely opposing this unconstitutional, coercive initiative.”
“We’re energized and we’re ready to work once again to protect our beautiful Evergreen State,” said Villeneuve. “But we find it sad that Tim Eyman has nothing better to do than to threaten the future of Washington’s youth.”
“Not once has Tim ever proposed an initiative that would help people. If he wanted, he could direct his energies towards ending homelessness, cleaning up Puget Sound, or ensuring vulnerable populations like the mentally ill get the care they need. But he’d rather burn than build. Instead of contributing to the betterment of our communities, he seeks their destruction.”